Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking the Canadian government to "facilitate (Enes) Kanter's safe passage to and from Canada should the Portland Trail Blazers play the Toronto Raptors in Toronto, Canada, in the upcoming NBA Finals."
A midseason signing after being waived by the New York Knicks, Kanter has played an instrumental role for Portland during the playoffs in the absence of injured starting center Jusuf Nurkic. The Turkish big man has averaged 12.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the field in 12 postseason games so far.
The Turkish government revoked Kanter's passport in 2017 due to his well-documented and outspoken criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More recently, it also demanded Interpol issue international notice to have the NBA player arrested and extradited to Turkey on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. As a result, Kanter stayed in the U.S. for the Trail Blazers' game in Toronto in March.
"I have instructed my staff to work with our administration to ensure that Mr. Kanter could travel safely to Canada and return unimpeded in the event of a Portland-Toronto NBA series," Wyden wrote to Trudeau. "I urge your government to ensure the same with respect to Mr. Kanter's ability to enter Canada, play in Canada and then return safely and expeditiously to the United States.
"I also urge you to state publicly that your government will ignore any red notice against Mr. Kanter. Doing so would send a strong message to President Erdogan and any other government that seeks to use international organizations to silence critics or settle political scores."
Should the Blazers and Raptors win their respective conference finals matchups against the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks, Kanter would have to travel to Toronto for Games 1 and 2, as well as Games 5 and 7 if necessary.